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"TOGETHER WE CAN" - celebrations of International Romani Day in Prague focus on interethnic cooperation

28.3.2017 12:54
On 8 April 2016, International Roma Day, the La Fabrika club in Prague, Czech Republic held a celebration with the motto of
On 8 April 2016, International Roma Day, the La Fabrika club in Prague, Czech Republic held a celebration with the motto of "Honoring the Invisible". (PHOTO: Jitka Votavová,

An exhibition, an interactive video projection in the center of Prague, panel discussions and theatrical performances. All this is being offered for this year's celebrations of International Romani Day (8 April) in Prague.

The celebrations begin on Wednesday, 5 April and will continue until Saturday, 8 April, when they will culminate with a grand gala evening at the La Fabrika theater in Prague's Holešovice neighborhood featuring duets by Czech and Romani performers from the contemporary music scene. This year's celebrations are being organized by the ARA ART group, which is holding the celebration for the third year in a row.

"TOGETHER WE CAN" is the motto of this year's celebrations of International Romani Day. According to David Tišer, the director of ARA ART, that topic is resonating not just in the Romani community, but throughout all of society now.

Organizers are responding to the fact that in the Czech Republic, the lives of non-Roma and Roma are lived in parallel and frequently only intersect when members of one group have a problem with members of the other. "That is precisely what it is necessary to fundamentally change. This society, this state, is created by all of us together. We are all responsible for public affairs and for the situation that has long prevailed in this society," Tišer said, adding that the organizers would like to encourage members of the public to celebrate with each other, communicate with each other, create and live together, to actively seek ways to approach each other positively and attempt to change the world for the better.

Last year, the legendary Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura issued a similar statement on International Roma Day. On their official Facebook profile, a very clear message was posted on 8 April 2016.

"Sepultura will always support the right to anyone or any group to be free and to live in peace. Respect the differences to build a strong and prosperous society," said the message, accompanied by the hashtags #romamovement45 #romaday #opreroma.

Discussions, exhibition, historical tram rides and video projection

This year's celebrations of International Roma Day will begin with a discussion between representatives of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs about the current situation of Roamni people in the Czech Republic. Visitors to the American Center in Prague will then be able to see the opening of the travelling exhibition by the American photographer Chad Evans Wyatt there, called "Roma Rising", a project that combats the stereotypical media and social view of Romani people as problematic members of society.

International Roma Day Gala - "TOGETHER WE CAN" – („MŮŽEME SPOLU“)
8 April 2017 at 19:30

La Fabrika, Komunardů 30, 170 00 Praha 7
Ticket sales are being exclusively arranged by La Fabrika.

The Romani art gallery Phundrado Vudar will open an exhibition on Thursday, 6 April, by Jana Hejkrlíková and Co. Lovers of Romani music will be able to hear it on Friday, 7 April, performed live beginning at 17:00 when a specially-dispatched historical tram - the "tROMvajka" - will travel from the Střešovice stop to Hradčanská and Náměstí Republiky directly in the center of Prague.

Jan Bendig, Gitana and David Koller on the same stage

Fans of contemporary art will find an interactive video being projected onto the exterior walls of various buildings underway in the center of Prague beginning at 8 PM. The celebrations will close with Saturday's gala featuring Czech and Roma dance and music performances.

The audience will see several stars of the contemporary music scene, such as the singer Anna Mária Bagárová, Filip Gondolán, musician Milan Kroka (who performed for years with the legendary Romani singer Věra Bílá), Kennedy Lakatoš and Radek Molnár. They will appear together with the lead singer for the Czech band "Lucie", David Koller, and with the conductor of the Yo Yo Band, Richard Tesařík.

Jan Bendig, the up-and-coming Czech freestyle rap group Sharkass, the Slovak diva Adriana Dráfiová (aka Gitana) and many more performers will appear as well. All performers will be accompanied by the Josef Fečo Band, comprised of leading Romani musicians from the younger generation.

The celebration of 8 April 2017 marks 46 years from the day that the historically first-ever World Romani Congress happened in Orpington near London, England. In the year 1990, to honor that meeting, 8 April was proclaimed the International Romani Day.

For the biggest national minority in the Czech Republic this day is not just an occasion to celebrate, but also an opportunity to emphasize that the Romani community is far from just being a problematic topic for society. The day has been marked irregularly since the year 2000 in the Czech Republic.

Several years ago the creative team at ARA ART decided to change that situation and to introduce a tradition of all the bigger human rights and Romani organizations collaborating as partners on 8 April. ARA ART's celebrations will expand for the first time this year beyond the Czech capital.

Local organizations in Brno, Chomutov, České Budějovice, Jihlava, Nový Jičín and Ostrava will be running their own celebrations with the theme of "TOGETHER WE CAN". You can watch the video recording of last year's celebrations of International Roma Day 2016 in Prague here.

jal, ARA ART, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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